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How can we conserve natural resources and reduce costs? The new dialogue portal www.greeneconomy.admin.ch presents examples of companies which practise this approach, allows actors from business, science, society and the public sector to have their say, and aims to reflect the full spectrum of opinions on related topics. The Federal Office for the Environment FOEN operates the web portal as an open forum in the framework of the Federal Council’s Green Economy Action Plan.

Researchers unveil new details about how cells in a living being process stimuli. The study, partly funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF, focuses on so-called G-proteins, which help transmit external stimuli that reach a cell into its interior. Using a technique developed at PSI, the study authors discovered which parts of the G-proteins are vital for their functioning. In particular, they demonstrated that only a few amino acids, protein building blocks, have a major influence on their function. Other amino acids, however, can be altered without compromising their function. The new findings significantly improve our understanding of processes such as sensory perception and hormone activity, and aid the development of new drugs. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), ETH Zurich, the pharmaceutical company Roche and the British MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology report their results in the journals Nature and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

Before new chemicals can be approved, environmental risk assessments have to be carried out. But conventional toxicity testing with live fish is costly and time-consuming, and new substances continue to be produced without being adequately assessed. A novel approach – avoiding the need for experiments with juvenile fish – has now been demonstrated by an Eawag-led research team: the growth of cultured gill cells, combined with modelling, can be used to predict the growth of whole organisms.

Crackpot idea or recipe for success? This is a question entrepreneurs often face. Is it worth converting the production process to a new, ecologically better material? Empa has developed an analysis method that enables companies to simulate possible scenarios – and therefore avoid bad investments. Here’s an example: Nanofibers made of carrot waste from the production of carrot juice, which can be used to reinforce synthetic parts.

Switzerland and the USA have reached agreement on mutual recognition of each other’s standards for organic products. Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann signed the equivalence arrangement negotiated between the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the United States Department of Agriculture yesterday in Washington. The arrangement facilitates trade in organic products. It comes into force with immediate effect.

Specialist staff: info@blw.admin.ch
Last updated on: 26.11.2009
Author: Magdalena Zajac

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